Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Napa-versary: Eating Sonoma

***This is part 5 of my "Napa-versary" trip report detailing a recent visit to Napa Valley to celebrate our 1-year wedding anniversary***

1. Eating Napa
2. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort Part I - Check-In, Our Lodge
3. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort Part II - Resort Facilities, Activities, and Food
4. The Restaurant at Meadowood + Meeting Chef Christopher Kostow
5. Eating Sonoma

After spending the day hiking around Calistoga Ranch, we cleaned up and got ready for dinner. The day before we had feasted at The Restaurant at Meadowood, so we had made plans to try something more casual the following day. Based on our research, everything we read and everyone we talked to kept coming back to Bar Bravas de Tapas in Healdsburg, which is located closer to the Sonoma side of wine country. After looking at the menu we were sold, despite the fact that it would be a 45 minute drive each way from where we were staying.

The drive from Calistoga actually wasn't too bad, with most of it on semi-windy country roads and a short stint on the 101 freeway. We headed into downtown Healdsburg, which is filled with shopping and restaurants. It really has a lot of charm, and we even made a mental note to stay in that area next time we visit Sonoma.

Parking was a breeze, and we walked over to the restaurant where we had made early dinner reservations at 5:30pm which is right when they open. The dining room isn't that large, and only seats roughly 30-40 people at a time, so I highly recommend that you make reservations ahead of time. They also have a huge, outdoor patio in the back where most of the walk-ins were sent.

Bar Bravas de Tapas in Healdsburg, CA

Bar Bravas de Tapas dining room

My wife in particular loves tapas since it means that we get to try lots of different things. The plates were actually perfect for two people, with most orders coming in 2's or 3's. The hardest part was deciphering the menu and figuring out how much to order, but once that was done we just sat back and enjoyed the amazing food.

For just two people, I wouldn't recommend ordering any of the family-size entrees since that really limits the amount of things you're able to try. We just stuck to the small plates, and for us big eaters, 7 orders was just right. For me, the highlights were the lamb sliders, tuna belly salad, and the crispy pig ears.

Iberico ham

Goat cheese tostada

Lamb sliders

Tuna belly salad

Fried crispy pig ears

Grilled octopus

Grilled quail

None of the desserts on the menu at Bravas jumped out to us, so we walked down the street and stumbled upon Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar for dessert. Along with a large selection of ice cream, they had 5 types of pies on the menu. I'm a sucker for pie, so as soon as I saw the menu outside I already had one foot through the door. The strawberry blueberry ginger pie is the most popular and was unfortunately sold out, but we ended up going for the salt-overload combo with the salted honey pie along with salted caramel ice cream. I love salted caramel ice cream, and this one was fantastic, even better than Bi-Rite's in San Francisco.

Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar in Healdsburg, CA

Daily specials

Salted honey pie with salted caramel ice cream

Afterwards, we walked around a bit more through downtown Healdsburg. There's a small park nearby, and we somehow ended up over at Mustache Baked Goods which has the same owners as Noble Folk. They've been featured on the Food Network, and we grabbed a cupcake and some macarons for the road.

Mustache Baked Goods in Healdsburg, CA

Overall, a fantastic side-trip over to Healdsburg, and Bar Bravas certainly lived up to the hype. While we had our hearts set on eating there on this trip, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it if you're in Napa since there are plenty of options over there without having to drive over an hour and a half round-trip.


  1. Two other favorites for your next Healdsburg visit. Willi's (another tapas bar with a raw bar focus) and BarnDiva. If I could marry the goat cheese croquettes with lavender honey, I would. I have impure thoughts about them!!!

    1. Thanks so much for the recs! They have been added to the to-eat list =)